Welcome to the Department of Epidemiology
What is Epidemiology?
Epidemiology has been defined as the study of the distribution and determinants of disease and injury in human populations. Epidemiologist study the variation of disease in relation to age, sex, race, occupational and social characteristics, place of residence, susceptibility, exposure to specific agents or other pertinent characteristics. Also of concern are the temporal distribution of disease, the examination of trends, cyclical patterns and intervals between exposure to causative factors and onset of disease.
The scope of the field ranges from study of the causes of disease to the control of prevention of disease and distribution of health resources. It should be emphasized that epidemiology focuses on health problems in population groups rather than on an individual. Epidemiology is a relatively young field with constantly expanding boundaries.
The range of activities which may be at least partly epidemiologic includes investigation and control of disease outbreaks, study of environmental and industrial hazards, evaluation of new, preventive or curative clinical treatment, determination of the health needs of the populations, and evaluation of effectiveness of health services.
Many of the tools of epidemiology are borrowed from other fields such as microbiology, immunology, medicine, statistics, demography and medical geography. There is a growing core of purely epidemiologic methodology. This methodologic core includes not only statistical methodology and principles of study design but a unique way of thinking which is beyond the rote memorization of rules.
The contribution of epidemiology to any study involving groups of people is increasingly being recognized and demanded. An epidemiologist may work in a wide variety of settings, including international health agencies, state and local health departments, federal government agencies and health programs, health maintenance organizations, colleges and universities, and numerous research institutions, both privately and publicly sponsored.
It is the intention of the faculty of the Department of Epidemiology to (1) advance the field of knowledge of disease causation, transmission, pathopoiesis, and prevention through studies of the distribution of diseases in human populations, through laboratory studies and through incorporation of techniques derived from other disciplines; and (2) to provide a technical base for development of the optimal use and distribution of health resources for the promotion of community health.
The academic objectives of this department are:
To prepare students for careers in research, teaching and community service.
To provide a stimulating academic environment which will challenge students to expand their field of knowledge, develop their understanding of epidemiologic methodologies and ability to apply these to a wide range of health problems.
To provide students in the other programs in the Fielding School of Public Health with an understanding of the basic principles of epidemiology and of their application to the resolution of health problems in the community.
To join with other departments in the Fielding School of Public Health to conduct multidisciplinary educational programs for the training of more broadly qualified health professionals (e.g., environmental epidemiologist).
To improve the quality of epidemiology practice in developing countries, particularly in Asia, through training in-country and at UCLA.
Professional and Community Service
The faculty of the department strive to provide service to their profession and community by giving technical advice and assistance to other programs in the School of Public Health; other academic institutions; local, state, national and international health agencies; other individuals or groups in the community; and by carrying out research which is relevant to profession community needs.